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johnny dollar's vault

retro pop culture and various local observations and ramblings.

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Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
johnny dollar's vault resides in the basement of stately dollar maisonTM, amongst the wine cellar, tiki bar, and finicky electrical panel. from time to time i will unearth various artifacts from either there or from the random crevices of my mind.

please visit the new and improved pig cookin' post!

NOTE: this blog will NOT deal with any recent pop culture (i.e. since about 1990) or topical issues, so if you're looking for discussion about britney baracko jacko flacco, look elsewhere, lol

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

ports of call 1944-1945: LST -708 in the pacific

i am rather pleased with myself; recently, having read tales of the south pacific and viewing the most recent ken burns documentary, the war, i was inspired to see what i could dig up about my grandfather's time serving with the u.s. navy in the south pacific.

(grandpa, top second from left, with

H.A. Kinney, 107 Blythe, Paris, Tn

Albert Perotto, 246 North Sr, Claremont, NH

Chas. E. Hedigan, 5618 Greer Ave, St. Louis, Mo

Joseph W. Anton, 324 Gardenia, Royal Oaks, Michigan

George N, Bell, 3717 N. Franklin St, Philadelpia, Pa

George McGinn, 40 Pond St., Orond, Maine)


my grandfather emigrated from herschfeld, germany in the 1920's and ended up settling down in st. louis. in 1944 he got drafted into the u.s. navy, where he proudly served as a seaman, first class aboard an LST. he was both the ship's cook/baker and a loader for the 40mm anti-aircraft guns.

so of course i started off with some internet research, after hitting up my dad and his siblings for any info that they might have had. my uncle promptly sent me a scan of the ports of call he visited, which i went ahead and transcribed, as shown below.




Initiation April 20, [19]44

April 21 – May 26 Boats
26 May – 6 June Home
6 June – 8 June OGU [Out Going Unit]
9 June – 21 June [Camp] Bradford [Norfolk, Virginia]
21 June – 26 June [Camp] Shelton [Norfolk, Virginia]
27 June – 2 July Chicago
2 July – 9 July Great Lakes [Naval Training Station]
10 July - Jeffersonville [Indiana]
[17 July 1944 USS LST-708 Commissioned]
17 July – 17 August New Orleans [Naval Support Activity]
23 August – 26 August Cuba
29 August – 1 September Panama
14 September – 19 September Deago [sic. – San Diego]
29 September – 14 October Pearl Harbor
31 October – 2 November Guam [Mariana Islands]
4 November – 12 November Ulithi [Caroline Islands]
16 November – 17 November Hollandia [now Jayapura, Indonesia]
19 November – 14 December Manus [Island, Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea]
15 December – 26 December Hollandia
29 December – 31 December Windy [Bay- USS Windham Bay CVE-92, a Casablanca Class Escort Carrier]
6 January – 8 January 1945 Leyte [, Philippine Islands]
11 January – 28 January Mindoro [, Philippine Islands]
31 January – 7 February Leyte
14 February – 17 February Manus
22 February – 12 March Guadalcanal
21 March – 25 March Ulithi
1 April – 8 April Okinawa
14 April – 19 April Leyte
19 April – 1 June Inamoc [, Philippine Islands]
1 June – 5 June Leyte
[4 June 1945 – Okinawa Gunto Occupation]
8 June – 14 June Ulithi
15 June – 29 June Guam
29 June – 1 July Okinawa
6 July – 8 July Leyte
9 July – 10 July Cebu [, Philippine Islands]
11 July – 16 July Leyte
21 July – 22 July Okinawa
22 July – 24 July Ie [Shima, an island off Okinawa Honto]
24 July – 25 July Okinawa
30 July – 1 August Leyte
3 August – 5 August Mindoro
6 August – 11 August Bataan Subic [Bay, Philippine Islands]
[14 August 1945: VJ Day]
16 August – 25 August Okinawa
29 August – 4 September Leyte
7 September – 15 September Manila [, Philippine Islands]
16 September – 17 September Lingayen [Luzon, Philippine Islands]
24 September – 1 October Wakayama [, Japan]
9 October – 11 October Manila
11 October – 18 October Cavite [ Naval Base, Luzon Island, Philippine Islands]
18 October – 8 November U.S.S. Mellette [APA-156: Operation Magic Carpet to bring U.S. Forces home]
8 November – 12 November Seattle
12 November – 16 November Train
16 November – 17 November Lamberts [sic.]
17 November [1945] Home

so this started to tell some of the story, but not really what happened per se. you could cross reference the dates with action that occurred through the various history resources out there - but i wanted more.

i came across a website for men who had served on LSTs, and it appears that they are doing their best to document the history of their time in service, as well as coordinate annual meetings of the remaining crews. it's pretty inspiring!

through this resource, cross referenced with an article about medals presented to crewmembers of LST 708 fifty years after the fact, helped me get the address and phone number of one of the crew members. i called him, and he remembered my grandfather quite well!

this guy very graciously emailed me the photo of the ship that is showing at the top of the post, as well as a history of the LST written by the first lieutenant of the 708. i still want to get permission from the author to post the story if possible, but i had to share this following passage, knowing that my grandpa was in charge of the eats on board:

"On the 6th Feb. with LSTs 625, 628, 227, 580, we shoved off for Manus and the Solomon Islands. Before we got to Florida Island, we encountered a sea of fresh cabbages all put up in new crates! This farm boy from Western New York State took a double look, as Phelps, NY, is the sauerkraut capital of the world! The cabbage must have been grown out there some place; we also soon had to take all a whole fantail load which we soon added, as our share, to the sea of cabbage. In my mind's eye I can still vision the sea of cabbage."

haaah, he came all the way from germany so he could make sauerkraut for the navy in the south pacific.


i still have more work to do with this, and would like to chart the course on a map based on the above ports/islands. i think it is important that we keep our gratitude alive for all the fighting men and women who went through so much for the sake of what we take for granted today.

to that end, i am going to make every effort to join up with the four remaining known crew members from LST 708 when they have their annual convention this year in washington, d.c. i'll let you know if i get any more good scuttlebutt.

epliogue: i have acquired the scrapbook of dean c. garnett and will share more about lst 708 in the near future.

11 Comments:

Blogger Summer said...

This is really cool! and I'm impressed by how much you look like your grandfather. I could pick him out before I read the caption.

11:19 AM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

thx summer! :D

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John: You did a wonderful job of detective work to find details of your grandfather's duty to his adopted country.
daddio

3:40 PM  
Blogger Malnurtured Snay said...

He's looking at that guy's head and thinking, "This dude needs a fez!"

10:48 PM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

daddio: thanks.

snay: lawl!

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello John! I have a WWII Hawaii photo album that belonged to a sailer on the LST 708 named Dean C. Garnett. I am an antique dealer and thought I should share it with you before I put it up for sale. I can email photos, etc. Under the "Autographs of my Friends" section of the album I found Albert Perruo but he signed it Albert Burotto in the album, and Joseph W. Anton! My email is old-mags@centurytel.net. Leslie Griffith, Saguache, Colorado

2:23 PM  
Blogger fev said...

John: This is Joe Anton's son-in-law. Would you mind if I post a copy of your photos of LST708 and its crew?

Tnx,
fev

11:27 AM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous patricia said...

Hi. My father, Lieutenant Commander William H. Beckerleg, was the Captain of LST 708.
He died 4 days ago, but I have his photo albums from that time and can send you copies of pictures from the boat and crew, although I cannot identify them, but I suppose you could recognize your grandfather.
My email is: pbu@onelinkpr.net

12:19 AM  
Blogger johnny dollar said...

my sympathies for your father's passing ~ but many thanks for the offer - i will email you now. thank you!

10:40 AM  
Blogger Lion Chasing said...

My Dad, Arnold A Murphy, served aboard the LST 708 as the navigator as an Ensign. He was with her until she was decommissioned.

12:55 PM  

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